On Thursday, January 31, NBC will introduce audiences to Dr. Jason Cole in the new drama, “Do No Harm.”
As portrayed by Steven Pasquale, Cole is a highly respected neurosurgeon who is harboring a dark secret. Every night at 8:25pm, Cole’s personality gives way to that of Ian Price, a drug-addicted, sociopath who seems obsessed with destroying Cole’s personal and professional lives. Cole and Price are the same man who is forced to go to war with himself. And Cole’s counter measures to control Price are rapidly fading.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because “Do No Harm” creator David Schulner took his inspiration from Robert Lewis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” while crafting an original story set in the present.
Television is no stranger to characters who harbor a dark side underneath a veneer of normalcy. Some of the most captivating characters in TV history are monstrous men with a stunning capacity for evil. Some of these characters are even beloved by television viewers for their more charming or redemptive qualities. But make no mistake, these characters are among the most dangerous to have ever appeared on TV.
In honor of “Do No Harm’s” upcoming premiere, we’re taking a look back at five of the most compelling monsters in TV history.
In the early ‘90s, Bob (Frank Silva) terrified audiences on “Twin Peaks” with his otherworldly appetite for violence and murder. Because Bob was not a man at all. Rather, he was some sort of demonic entity that took control of Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) and he brutally killed Leland’s daughter, Laura (Sheryl Lee).
Within “Twin Peaks” itself, not every character believed in Bob’s existence. But they all acknowledged Bob as a manifestation of evil that can exist within any man. Even a more heroic figure like Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) was not immune to Bob’s plans.
And thanks to the premature cancellation of “Twin Peaks,” Bob wins!
Before he went on to star in NBC’s “Heroes,” Adrian Pasdar appeared as the extremely disturbed title character in “Profit.”
Jim Profit shocked TV audiences in the mid ‘90s because he was perhaps the first leading character on television to casually blackmail, bribe or even murder his enemies as he climbed the corporate ladder. And Profit could always smile in the faces of his rivals before and after setting them up for ruin or death.
In many ways, Jim Profit was a forerunner for the darker characters that emerged on TV in the following decade. That’s a distinction that Profit himself would have grimly appreciated, since he believed that everyone was secretly like him.
Or as Profit put it, "The line most people say they won't cross... it's usually something they've already done when they thought no one was watching."
“The Soprano’s” lead character, Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) is probably the most beloved individual on this list. And what’s not to love about a man who would do anything for his family? Or someone who suffers crippling anxiety attacks and deals an overbearing mother who could drive anyone to insanity?
Well, Tony was also one of the leading mob bosses in New Jersey and he was ruthlessly effective in dealing with his enemies. Early in the series’ run, Tony balances a college visit alongside his daughter with the murder of a former associate turned Federal witness against the crime families.
To be sure, Tony was far from the most deranged character on “The Sopranos” nor was he the most violent. But whenever Tony showed his dark side, audiences largely gave him a pass because they found the rest of his character so human and relatable. In that way, Tony was almost the perfect monster.
At the height of “The Sopranos’” popularity, it was considered mind boggling that viewers could fall for someone as dark as a Jersey mob boss. Enter Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), the lead character of “Dexter.”
Dexter is the first serial killer to have his own TV series and the show attempts to justify Dexter’s bloody reign of terror by having him target people who would otherwise escape justice. Hall often gives a sympathetic performance that allows viewers to root for him... which almost makes them complicit in his crimes.
Unlike most of the characters on this list, Dexter is pretty bad at faking human emotions and interactions. So, occasionally characters get a clue about the truth beneath Dexter’s seemingly harmless personality. Unfortunately, they often end up dead soon afterwards.
All of Dexter’s pretensions of a code fall away when he feels threatened... and he’s even drawn his sister, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) into his murderous web as bodies start to stack up behind him. However “Dexter” ends, it’s bound to be bloody.
Dr. Oliver Thredson
Like “Do No Harm’s” Jason Cole, Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) from “American Horror Story: Asylum” is also a doctor who is hiding a double life. While we don’t currently know how far “Ian Price” will go to destroy his alter ego, Jason Cole; Thredson’s duality doesn’t come from an alternate personality.
Instead, Thredson knowingly creates a serial killer persona known as Bloody Face; which he uses to unleash a wave of terror and murder during the ‘60s. But what makes Oliver Thredson so terrifying is that he knowingly hides his intentions behind a mask of kindness and a doctor’s compassion before luring his victims into his house of horrors.
And even with Thredon’s death, his murderous legacy outlives him in the present day.
Time will tell if Jason Cole and Ian Price will live up to the legacy of their television forerunners. But NBC’s “Do No Harm” will kick off the war between them on Thursday, January 31!